So we keep hearing the buzzword about “boutique” practices that offer advice across multiple areas or disciplines, such as financial planning, estate planning and tax planning. I commonly refer to this type of practice as a “multi-disciplinary practice” or MDP. You may be asking yourself how you can get on the “boutique bandwagon” so you don’t miss the next great trend in our industry.

A true MDP is made up of multiple professionals with different yet complementary areas of expertise, such as accountants, lawyers and financial advisors. Let’s say you are a financial advisor operating as a sole practitioner. The idea of building an MDP probably seems like a daunting if not impossible task. It can take years to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with other service professionals. While I would encourage any serious financial professional to actively pursue building an MDP, I would encourage the same financial professional to simultaneously embark on a personal program of self-improvement and education. In other words, create your own personal MDP by expanding the areas of advice you can offer within the area of financial services.

If you concentrate on selling a single product like fixed indexed annuities, look at widening your services. Why not have as many financial weapons in your arsenal from which to utilize for your clients? A financial advisor should have the entire universe of investment options at his disposal and therefore no limitations in what he can offer his clients.

How you do this starts with your own education and training. Your options are plentiful – from acquiring additional licenses like the Registered Investment Advisor to attaining professional designations that involve coursework, ongoing education and adherence to strict codes of ethics. Once you begin to expand the areas of advice that you offer, you will be creating your own, self-styled MDP within the financial services industry – something you can achieve on your own quickly and without other professionals.

Those of you operating in the fixed insurance universe can cross over to the “dark side” and begin offering investment advice by passing the Series 65 exam and affiliating with a RIA (or establishing your own RIA).

This is the makings of a mini financial MDP – one that you can build yourself. As an investment advisor, for example, you will now be able to provide advice on and help manage all of a client’s assets. Ask yourself how much of your client’s assets you left on the table last year. Perhaps you left more money on the table than you acquired. If this is the case and it is due to a limitation of what advice and services you can currently provide, then creating your own financial MDP makes that much more sense.

There is still no doubt that the holy grail of MDPs can be achieved when you have successfully assembled multiple, synergistic professionals in one seamless practice. But there is more than one way to skin a cat – you can be your own financial services MDP by offering advice within multiple segments of the financial services industry. A securities broker, a registered investment advisor and an insurance professional – this diversity of licensure and expertise can be the reflection of one highly motivated, well-rounded financial advisor. This will have an immediate and substantial impact on your practice, so begin building your MDP with yourself. The other professionals can and will follow.